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In Character with Honey Badger and Max Carnage

by: TRIBUNE PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Stephanie Collingsworth and Ryan Rodacker, founders of the Portland Big Eaters Club, take the measure of the best that the Mad Greek Deli on East Burnside Street has to offer. The couple insists that when it comes to competition eating, fat gets in the way.Stephanie Collingsworth (aka Honey Badger) and Ryan Rodacker (Max Carnage) are what a mom might call good eaters. Except some moms might call them excessive eaters, or worse. The couple — she's from Southeast Portland and he lives in Gresham — have started the Portland Big Eaters Club as a means to introduce others to the world of competitive eating.

Portland Tribune: How did you two become competitive eaters?

Ryan Rodacker: I had been mildly interested in competitive eating for about 10 years. I'd competed in a couple of major league eating events. We went on vacation to the coast and we ate almost a whole cow between us.

Tribune: You were dating at this point?

Stephanie Collingsworth: Yes.

Tribune: Did big eating have anything to do with your meeting or getting together?

Rodacker: Nothing.

Tribune: So on this trip to the coast you just discovered you were both big eaters?

Rodacker: We ate a lot because we were staying at a casino and we got a great deal for an eat, stay and play package that included a whole lot of food.

Tribune: Usually on early dates we try to eat modestly. We don't want our prospective partner to think we are, what's the word I'm thinking of …

Rodacker: Gluttonous.

Tribune: Yes, thank you. But you two weren't worried about that?

Rodacker: We weren't worried about that until we came home from vacation. We both stepped on a scale, looked at our weights and went, “Ugh.” At that moment we decided to get fit and lose some weight. Fast forward five months later of healthy eating and calorie restriction, I decided to get more seriously into big eating.

Tribune: Wait a minute. You just lost all this weight, and now you're going to compete with guys that eat 54 hot dogs in 10 minutes?

Rodacker: The record is 69 and, yes.

Tribune: I'm guessing your free time is dominated by either eating or exercising.

Rodacker: Absolutely. And editing video of our eating events.

Tribune: Do you two get competitive with each other? Ryan, what’s your single greatest eating feat? With your hands, of course.

Rodacker: A seven-pound burrito in a little over six minutes. It was massive.

Tribune: Hot sauce?

Rodacker: No. It was covered in burrito sauce. But if it were dry, hot sauce would have been a definite because it would have helped it go down faster.

Collingsworth: It won us a trip to Las Vegas. That particular burrito came with a regional prize from the restaurant chain.

Tribune: Stephanie, your greatest achievement?

Collingsworth: The Quadzilla Burger at Skyline Burgers. It is a five-pound food challenge.

Tribune: Did you order fries?

Collingsworth: Part of the challenge. I finished in nine minutes and 45 seconds.

Tribune: How did you feel at nine minutes and 50 seconds?

Collingsworth: Awesome?

Tribune: Oh, come on. Not a burp, not a belch, not a little unbuttoning of the belt?

Collingsworth: Nope. My capacity has gone beyond that.

Tribune: Funniest thing you've seen at an eating competition?

Collingsworth: A seven-pound burger challenge in Newport. The competitive eater who flew in to win the challenge is 5 foot, 105 pounds, and she ate the whole burger in a little over 14 minutes. Nobody had ever finished this burger in under an hour. The amazing part was that a 400-plus pound man was still finishing his burger in under an hour. He was determined to get second place. It was amazing because a person that big generally doesn't have that capacity.

Tribune: Really? Bigger people, bigger stomachs, right?

Collingsworth: More internal body fat. It takes up room where the stomach would otherwise stretch.

Rodacker: It's actually called the Belt of Fat theory.

Tribune: When you're not competing, the two of you don't eat much. Doesn't that eliminate the pleasure of food for you?

Rodacker: No, because a good number of hours of our week are spent looking at food competitions, shopping for the next challenge.

Tribune: So you eat voraciously and vicariously?

Rodacker: It's a little bit of Internet food porn.